Review: You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

You're Not Supposed to Die TonightYou’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight is a solid effort in the YA Horror space for well-loved author, Kalynn Bayron.

Admittedly, it was a bit of a mixed bag for me, with some aspects that I really enjoyed and others, not so much, but enjoyable nonetheless.

I have been saving this one for Spooky Season since its release. The cover is giving me all the 1980s-Slasher vibes that I could possibly want. I couldn’t wait to dive in.

I picked it up as my 1st-read for the Spooky Smart Bitch Readathon, hosted by the devilishly-delightful, Jordaline Reads, that I am participating in this week. It fit with the first prompt and that was all the nudging that I needed.

In this story we follow a group of teens, lead by Charity Curtis, who work at a full-contact terror experience called, Camp Mirror Lake.

The location is fittingly the actual filming location of a cult classic Slasher film called, Curse of Mirror Lake and the staged experience plays out well-known scenes from that movie. Charity’s role in the experience is that of Final Girl and she takes pride in her work.

On the last weekend of the season though, things begin to go horribly awry. Charity and friends are no longer fighting their way through a simulation, they’re fighting their way through a real-life Slasher.

Will Charity still be able to end up the Final Girl?!

With her girlfriend, Bezi, and many other friends’ lives on the line, she’s hoping not. She needs them ALL to survive.

I feel like this is an interesting take on the Teen Scream Slasher. I liked how modern it felt by having the setting be a live-action terror experience. I really enjoyed the initial set-up and that the Horror elements kicked in rather quickly.

Bayron wasted no time getting us to the action segment of the narrative.

I liked a lot of the elements, the setting, friends, the tension that builds and the history of the camp. However, with this being said, IMO it moved a little too quickly.

Because of the speed, it didn’t leave much time for development, both of plot, or character. It’s a short book, and because of this, it ended up feeling very surface level. I could have done with more substance all around.

I also feel like the story was one note. It could have been a better experience for me had it been even more campy. That may sounds strange, but I would have enjoyed some humor, or even just more witty banter.

This is 100% a taste issue though and regardless of my personal preferences, I can still recognize the effort and skill that Bayron brought to this story.

I actually hope she remains in this YA Horror lane. I can feel she is a true fan of the genre and I would love to see what else she could create in this space.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, fast-paced Teen Scream to help kick off the Spooky Season.

It has some great social commentary and a diverse cast of characters. Additionally, I listened to the audiobook and it’s fabulously narrated.

It definitely set the tone that I’m looking to keep for the next few months!! Well done!

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Review: Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz

Suddenly a MurderSuddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suddenly a Murder is a fun and engaging YA Mystery from debut author, Lauren Muñoz.

As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up. The setting is a 1920s-theme party that ends in murder…on an island! This was screaming Classic Mystery feel to me, and that’s something I have soooo been into this year.

This story follows a group of teens who have just graduated from high school. Before they go their separate ways, their queen bee, Kassidy, plans an OTT-all expenses paid, 1920s-themed week at the lavish, Ashwood Manor, set on Sparrow Island, off the coast of Maine.

Frankly, if that alone doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what else to say.

I suppose I should give you a little more though. So, basically, Kassidy is the organizer of the entire weekend.

She’s super wealthy and is footing the bill for the entire event. Not only does this include the rental of the extravagant, and completely secluded island property, but it also includes all the 1920s-themed wardrobes and accoutrements for the guests.

All is going well, I mean except for the occasional teen drama, or spat, obviously to be expected, until the very unexpected happens.

Before dinner one night, Kassidy’s boyfriend, Blaine, is discovered dead in his room. Desperate and afraid, the teens call the authorities, who make it just in time, before a ferocious storm stops ferry travel to-and-from the island.

Murder, they say. But can that possibly be true? Who of the group of friends could possibly commit murder, and why?

Y’all, this was a fantastic set-up by Muñoz. I love how she brought that classic feel we all know and love, whilst seamlessly making it modern and engaging enough for the next generation of Mystery Readers.

I was pulled in right from the very start, as our group of characters is making their way out to the island. We begin to learn a bit about each of the guests for the week, as well the relationships and history they have amongst themselves.

Isadora, Izzy, is our main character that we come to know and love, or at least I did, over the course of the story. She is a bit of an outsider with this group, even though Kassidy is her tried-and-true best friend.

Izzy’s Mom is a teacher at the prestigious academy from which the teens just graduated. Izzy was able to attend due to scholarship, unlike all of her other friends, whose parents could more than afford the pricey tuition.

Because of this, and other experiences, Izzy provides a bit of a different insight into the events than the other teens.

There are some hints dropped in this one where I was like, could this be the answer? But honestly, I didn’t figure this one out until about 80% of the way through, and even then, I didn’t figure it all out. Some aspects I still needed the characters to fill in the blanks for me.

I thought this was a ton a fun. I feel like Muñoz plotted the murder mystery aspects so well, while also including some more heavy-hitting topics for consideration.

In my opinion. the story overall was really well balanced and it definitely kept me engaged throughout.

I definitely recommend this to any Reader who enjoys a YA Mystery/Thriller with well-developed characters, lush atmosphere and rich people behaving badly. Bonus points if you enjoy reading about private school students and drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and cannot wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah

Where Darkness BloomsWhere Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Where Darkness Blooms was an early-2023 release that I had been anticipating for months. The synopsis was intriguing and this cover called to me. I mean look at her…

Then I started seeing some reviews that made me pump the brakes a bit. They weren’t bad necessarily, just some of the things mentioned made me question whether or not this would be to my tastes.

I knew I’d pick it up eventually, it just didn’t end up making my priority list. Recently, the audiobook became available through my local library and I decided now was the time.

It’s finally September and if this cover doesn’t scream Autumnal, I don’t know what does.

Sadly, I just felt sort of meh about this one. I’ve waited almost two weeks before writing my review, because I didn’t want to come off as being too hard on it. I have a tendency to burn hot, even when I consider a book to be middle of the road, or even good.

Sorry for that, personality flaw, and the thing is, I know this is a solid story that a lot of Readers will love and connect with. The writing style, and overall story format though did not suit my tastes at all.

So, what’s it all about?

This story is set in a small-Midwestern ((I believe)) town called Bishop, which is known for it’s chronic windstorms, endless sunflower fields and disappearing women.

We follow four teen girls, who all live together, sans-adults. Whitney and Jude are twins and then there is Bo and Delilah. The girls are connected, besides by the regular bonds of friendship, by the fact that all of their moms disappeared on the same night, never to be seen again.

In the present timeline, while disappearances are still occurring, a much delayed memorial is planned for the moms and it causes the old tragedy to be dragged again to the surface, revealing new secrets in its wake.

The girls work together to dig into the town secrets, trying to get to the truth, all while navigating the basic trials and tribulations of teenage years.

We have a few things here that I do tend to enjoy, eerie small town vibes and long-buried secrets. Those elements did work for me somewhat. However, the way it was all presented sort of took the shine out of those two things.

Most critically, the way this one kicked off. By 25%, my overall feeling was confusion. I found the four girls difficult to distinguish from one another and didn’t enjoy just being dropped off in their chaotic lives without context.

Unfortunately, I never really ended up finding my footing, and frankly, just gave up after a bit. I could appreciate the concepts, but had to work really hard not to DNF it.

One book that I couldn’t help thinking about while reading this was, Burn Our Bodies Down, by Rory Power. I feel like there are quite a few similarities between the two books, and without being too harsh, I feel like Power did it better.

In spite of the fact that this didn’t really work for me, if you think the synopsis sounds intriguing, or are as enamored by the cover as I was, you should absolutely check it out. You could end up loving it.

There’s a Reader for every book and a book for every Reader. This one not being to my personal taste means absolutely nothing at the end of the day.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games, #3)The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

This was solid, but definitely my least favorite so far. I sort of feel like Barnes jumped the shark with this one…

If you get that reference and have read this book, you might be nodding your head right now.

I may also be being a bit hyperbolic with that leading statement, but since The Final Gambit is the third book in the series, I was really hoping to be blown away by it. It’s been such a solid build up to this point. Sadly, I just wasn’t.

Granted, in the whole scheme of things, this is still a good book and the series will always hold a special place in my heart. With this one though, for the first time, I feel like I am reading it more for the brothers than for Avery.

In fact, the ironic part is, I’m really, really looking forward to reading The Brothers Hawthorne, even though this one let me down a little.

I do think Barnes has created a compelling overall story arc with this series and those boys in particular have caused a lot of drama, mixed feelings and general swooning.

I did enjoy how this story covers the final days of the time stipulated in the will, where Avery has to remain living at the Hawthorne mansion before she officially inherits the estate, and all that goes with it.

It was nice to feel that whole ordeal sort of wrapping up. Avery did definitely grow as a character over the course of the trilogy, but I’m not sure I would have made the same choices as her. Perhaps she is just more mature than me.

Overall, while this was my least favorite of the trilogy, it’s clear that JLB is an incredibly talented writer, who knows how to create tension and drama.

As I mentioned above, I am very interested to check out the next book in the series. I am anxious to get more from the boys. I feel like I am going to love it and then all will be right in the universe.

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Review: The Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny

The Girls from Hush CabinThe Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The moment I heard about this YA Thriller involving a sleepaway camp and featuring a gorgeously ominous cover, I knew that I needed to read it ASAP.

A bonus for me was that The Girls from Hush Cabin is a debut for Marie Hoy-Kenny and we all know, I love checking out author debuts. It’s such an exciting moment!

In this story we meet a group of four teens, Holly, Zoe, Denise and Calista, who have been friends since they used to bunk together at Camp Bellwood Lake. Unfortunately, after the closure of the camp, the girls drifted apart a bit.

They’re brought together again unexpectedly after the tragic death of their beloved counselor, Violet. They all want to attend her services to pay their respects, so they decide it would be best to go together.

Since Zoe lives in the same town that Violet did, the other girls travel to Zoe’s to stay for the duration of events.

The girls have definitely changed over the years, but if there is one thing they can agree on it’s that Violet’s death is suspicious as heck.

They believe she could have been murdered and that her death could be related to the incident that caused the closing of the camp. The thing is, each one of the girls is keeping her own secrets about that particular summer and may know more about the incident than they’re letting on.

If someone was willing to kill Violet over it, could they all be in danger too?

The girls want to uncover the truth, whatever the risks. They feel like they owe it to Violet, even if it means exposing some hurtful truths of their own.

I had so much fun with this. I don’t care what anyone says, this is a dramatic, OTT page-turner. Hoy-Kenny delivered exactly what I wanted and expected.

I thought the story was well told. I liked the structure of it, starting with how we met each of the girls and then also, that we got all of their perspectives.

As mentioned, they each had their own secrets, memories and experiences with Violet and learning all that stuff helped to build out the substance of the story.

This is super dramatic. The girls make every scene a dramatic scene, but they’re teens who just lost a good friend. Only one of them had really ever experienced that kind of loss before, so this is a whole new experience for them.

I think for characters this age, it all made sense. Not only was there external drama, there was also a lot of drama just amongst the four girls.

Ultimately though, I liked how they worked together and ended up evolving through a lot of their disputes. Some of the things, I personally would have found hard to forgive, so good on them.

There were also some side characters bringing a lot of intrigue and dramatic flair as well. Violet’s Mom, Mrs. Williams, was a particular favorite of mine.

If you read this, you’ll easily understand why. All I could picture while reading her was Jennifer Coolidge, who I absolutely adore.

As this gets closer to the conclusion, things really amp up. This definitely went places I wasn’t expecting. My jaw dropped more than once; such a thrill ride.

Overall, I just think this is a fun time. It might not make my top 10 list, out of the 100s of books I read this year, but I still think it is a great freaking debut and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I think Marie Hoy-Kenny is a great addition to the YA Thriller space. I’m looking forward to her next release!

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Review: Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight, Editors — Shelly Page and Alex Brown

Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & DelightNight of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight by Shelly Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight is a fun, spooky-time YA-Anthology full of great representation and diverse stories.

This is the perfect collection to get you in the mood for Fall!!

Editors, Shelly Page and Alex Brown, did an incredible job bringing together a great assortment of authors to contribute to this collection.

I loved how each story takes place on Halloween night, when there is a rare Blue Supermoon. It’s thought this special occasion could open up our world more easily to all sorts of supernatural and creepy occurrences.

It was fun to see how each of these authors took that prompt, that setting, if you will, and created something unique and engaging, all of their very own.

Anthologies can be tough sometimes, because it’s rare to connect with each and every story equally, but for me, this was well-rounded and exciting enough to keep me hooked throughout.

Of course some stories fit my personal tastes more than others, but I can absolutely see how every single Reader will be able to find something within this collection to enjoy and connect to.

I really enjoyed so many of these of stories and cherished how different they all were from each other. It never felt repetitive, or overdone.

Some of the standouts for me were: The Visitor by Kalynn Bayron, A Brief Intermission by Sara Farizan, The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting by Alex Brown and Nine Stops by Trang Thanh Tran.

My favorite story overall was Anna by Shelly Page. This one just had everything I love to get myself geared up for a solid spooky season. It had a babysitter, twins, a ouija board, an attic and a ghost. I mean, what is not to love about that!?

Finally, I will just say how much I appreciate the thought and care these editors and authors put into this collection. The vast and inclusive representation is so important and I feel like they all did a great job creating super fun and creepy stories, while also being mindful of the original intent of the collection.

I would absolutely recommend this anthology as a way to get yourself in the mood for the Spooky Season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year and books that showcase that are my favorite kinds!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’d love to read more from every one of these authors!

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Review: House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt #2) by Erin A. Craig

House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt, #2)House of Roots and Ruin by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀🌾🥀

House of Roots and Ruin is the second book in Erin A. Craig’s tremendous YA-Fantasy series, Sisters of the Salt.

I looooooooved the first book, House of Salt and Sorrows, so much and I couldn’t wait to return to this beautifully-eerie world. It was one of my most anticipated YA-releases of 2023 and it did not disappoint.

This story takes place years after the conclusion of the first story. In this one, we’re following Verity, who I believe is the youngest of the remaining Thaumas sisters.

Verity is 17-years old and has spent her whole life living at the family estate, Highmoor, now run by her older sister, Camille. The rest of the remaining sisters are all all living in various places around Arcannia.

While Verity loves Camille and loves Highmoor, she’s beginning to feel stifled. She wants more.

Any time she broaches the subject of leaving the estate with Camille, however, her hopes are quickly dashed. It seems her sister wants to keep her trapped there, but why?

It’s as Verity is struggling with this issue that she receives word from her sister, Mercy, that the Duchess of Bloem is interested in hiring Verity to paint a portrait of of her son.

Verity is more than intrigued. This sounds like exactly the kind of opportunity she needs and the son, Alexander, is a young man just her age. This could be just what she needs, but how will she ever convince Camille to let her go?

As the sisters battle it out, the truth about why Camille wants to keep Verity at Highmoor is revealed, leaving Verity more confused than ever and more determined.

Verity decides she can’t wait any longer. Under the cover of darkness she flees, making her way to Bloem.

Once there, she’s entranced and impressed with her new surroundings. Bloem is stunning. The Duke is a celebrated botanist and the entire estate is replete with vibrant gardens and active greenhouses.

Additionally, Verity is smitten with Alexander. He’s handsome and charming. Their days together fill her with a sense of happiness she has never felt before.

Unfortunately, before long, Verity begins to be plagued by nightmares and dark feelings. Is her past catching up to her, or is something more going on in Bloem?

Reading House of Roots and Ruin was such a beautiful journey. It’s different than the first book, because of the setting. We’re now removed from the sea and thrust into a more botanical scene, but I still really enjoyed it.

In my opinion, Craig’s brand of gothically-infused horror imagery is unmatched in the YA genre. She brings such a rich atmosphere and the spooky imagery is A++.

The romance between Verity and Alexander was so pure and it was sweet watching it evolve. Verity has never had any sort of relationship like this, so she struggled a bit fitting her experiences with her expectations.

I thought that felt very real for a young woman and I enjoyed how Craig let her work through that versus just following a standard romance format.

I also enjoyed very much the complexity of the familial relationships, both Verity’s and Alexander’s. While the atmosphere was the highlight for me, I think the character work and the way the relationships played out deserve top marks as well.

We know a lot of Verity’s family history from the first book, and we do get a bit more here, but learning about Alex’s family, the Laurents, was so intriguing. Without giving too much away, I sort of feel like their last name should have been Moreau…

Craig did a great job of steadily building intensity. There is also an overriding mystery that kept me on my toes.

As the end approaches, everything begins to move at warp speed. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out and there were some twists getting there that I definitely didn’t see coming.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a darker Fantasy story, particularly if you enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows. While I could see people enjoying this as a standalone novel, I think it would be most impactful if you read the first book prior to this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m not sure if there are going to be more books in this world, but if there are, I will absolutely be picking them up!!

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Review: Two Truths and Lie by April Henry

Two Truths and a LieTwo Truths and a Lie by April Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

One of my reading challenges for this month, June 2023, was to give an author a second chance. After careful thought, I decided to give April Henry my second try.

I’ve only read from Henry once before, her 2019-release The Lonely Dead. I gave it 2-stars and upon completion, really had no desire to read more. It wasn’t a great experience.

Henry writes a lot of books and since The Lonely Dead was released she’s had quite a few that do sound interesting to me. This book is one of them.

I am so glad that I picked this up. It’s not perfect, but it was so quick, fun and easy. I had a great time with it!

In this story we follow Nell, a high school girl who is traveling with her acting troupe to a competition when they get stuck in a blizzard. Seeking shelter from the storm, their troupe coach, and only chaperone, finds an aging motel for them to stay at.

She warns the kids to be good and then she retires to her room. The driving was stressful and she needs rest. How much trouble can they get in anyway?

As the kids settle in and begin to explore the motel, they discover they aren’t the only travelers caught there. Amongst the other guests are a robotics team from another school.

The teens gather together in the common room and decide to play a game to pass the time: two truths and lie. The perfect way to get to know one another.

As the game escalates, it seems their night of harmless fun has turned into something much more sinister, even deadly.

It appears a murderer hides in their midst. Will they all be able to make it through the night alive?

I enjoyed Nell a lot as a main character. Also, I listened to the audiobook and the narration was fantastic. The narrator, Christine Lakin, was Nell to me.

This had a lot of tropes I enjoy. Examples being, the team getting stranded at a creepy motel due to inclement weather; I always love that sort of set-up. The strangers they meet being a little odd and possibly dangerous. The motel having a dark and brutal history and the gaming element.

I felt the whole package was incredibly intriguing.

There were some directions it took with the plot that I wasn’t as crazy about, but I feel like overall, it is an engaging and entertaining YA Thriller.

I walk away a happy girl. I’m so glad that I gave this a shot and had such an enjoyable experience with it. I am going to be comfortable now sifting through Henry’s backlist and picking up more of her work.

This is a perfect example of why you should always give authors another chance. Especially if they have only had one book that didn’t work for you. We all deserve a second chance, don’t we?

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Review: Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith

Those We DrownThose We Drown by Amy Goldsmith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

During the Summer months I love reading campy-feeling, trope-filled Horror and Thriller stories. I call them Summer Screams, Summer Scares or Summer Chillers.

I’m sure you get what I mean by that type of story. It’s a vibe. A bonus is a setting near, in, or around a body of water.

With this in mind, you can probably guess my excitement level when I first hear about Those We Drown. All I needed to read was the first sentence of the synopsis, an ocean-drenched, atmospheric horror debut, and I was sold.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I wanted to love and connect with this story, it didn’t work for me at all.

In this one we follow Liv, who is setting out with her somewhat estranged-best friend, Will, for a semester-at-sea aboard a luxury cruise ship, the Eos.

Liv is in attendance after being awarded a scholarship. She didn’t think much about that at first, but once she arrives at the ship, it’s clear that the other students in the program are all very, very wealthy. Of particular note are a trio of stunning influencers. Basically, the Plastics of the sea.

Liv feels self-conscious now about her scholarship. She feels like she stands out because of it; like everyone knows her financial situation and is talking about it.

At least she has Will though. He doesn’t care about such things. That is until they have a big blowout fight in front of everyone opening night. How embarrassing!

The next day, after several attempts to reach Will, Liv finds out he has taken ill and is now in quarantine. She tries desperately to get the powers-that-be to let her see him, but she gets shot down at every try.

From there we follow Liv as she tries to figure out what has really happened to Will. Is he actually sick, or is something more sinister going on?

After reading 400-pages of Liv, perhaps he is just hiding from her? Something to think about…

I actually feel very similarly to this as I did to They’re Watching You earlier this year. I could almost cut and paste that review, but I won’t.

This started out slow and in my opinion, stayed that way. It never took off. It went from nothing happening, to the MC floundering around repeating the same concerns over and over for 300-pages.

As a main character, I found Liv to be, honestly, really annoying. Her whole character was one note, desperation, but not in a way that made you feel desperate too. More in a way that you just wanted to get away from her.

Additionally, I am an atmosphere-girlie. You could give me nothing else, but if a book has a dark, eerie, ominous atmosphere, I am going to like it. I don’t need to like characters, I don’t need to believe your plot, but I need to have a strong atmosphere.

Sadly, I did not get what I was looking for here in that regard. They could have been anywhere. I never felt that eerie sort of vibe I wanted. It just wasn’t there.

Overall, the story felt very repetitive and I didn’t enjoy the direction the plot went, as far as the reveals and the truth behind the Eos. It didn’t hit like I expected.

With all of this being said, this is 100% my personal opinion. I am by no means the end-all, know-all of YA Horror novels. If this synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a go. Just because I didn’t enjoy it, doesn’t mean you won’t.

There’s a Reader for every book and a book for every Reader. If you do read it and love it, feel free to stop back by and let me know. I would love to hear your opinion!

Even though this one didn’t quite fit my tastes, I am glad I picked it up and I would consider reading future work from this author.

Thank you to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I know a lot of Readers will have fun with this.

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Review: Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills

Something Close to MagicSomething Close to Magic by Emma Mills
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super cute, funny and comforting, reading Something Close to Magic feels like a warm hug. Mills has done well with her debut into the YA Cozy Fantasy space.

I’ve loved some of Emma Mills’ YA Contemporary stories and was so excited to see her explore YA Fantasy. Unsurprisingly, she was able to deliver her same heart-warming and humorous writing style to this tale.

In this story we follow 17-year old Aurelie, an overworked and underappreciated baker’s apprentice at Basil’s Bakery.

Nevertheless, Aurelie persists. She keeps her head down and does her work, trying not to attract the attention of the grouchy and miserable bakery owner.

Aurelie’s life is up-ended one day when a determined bounty hunter, Iliana, enters the bakery and asks Aurelie to assist her on a quest in the dangerous Underwood.

Iliana has Seeking Stones she would like Aurelie to use to help her to find a kidnapped Prince and she’s not taking no for an answer.

Seeking is a magical skill that Aurelie has, but it’s not one she utilizes often. Eventually though, Aurelie caves. Iliana is persuasive and as it turns out, she’s got some time off of work anyway, and oh yeah, thanks to her miserable boss, no place to stay during her break.

Might as well go on an adventure!

They set out on their quest, they make friends, they find the hapless Prince, aptly named Prince Hapless and charming hijinks and character growth ensues.

Mills nailed her transition to Fantasy. She delivered her signature witty banter, cutsey romance, cozy vibes, light magic, court intrigue and sweetly-charming characters.

The perfect potion for a fun story!

I would absolutely recommend this to Readers who have enjoyed Mills’ work in the past, or any Cozy Fantasy Readers in general, YA or Adult.

For example, if you loved My Lady Jane, A Far Wilder Magic, or Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, you should definitely check this one out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I adored my time with this story and really hope Mills continues on in this space.

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